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References and Pointers in C++

I always know that when I'm running a C Course, the concept of pointers will be one of the more difficult elements for some of the delegates to grasp. No big deal, I can explain them in a number of ways, provide examples from different angle, and we'll be over the hiccough in progress in not too long a time. Pointers provide an exceptionally powerful capability, but C's an old language now and they're not exactly newbie-friendly.

You have C's pointers available in C++, but you also have references ...
* A Pointer is a variable the contains the address of another variable.
* A Reference is an alternative name that's assigned to a variable.

Thus, when you use a pointer, you need to prefix it with a "*" to mean "contents of" and to set it, you need to prefix it with "&" to mean address off, and that's simply not necessary with a reference.

Here's a sample from our C++ Course that displays data from an array using both the pointer way and the reference way:


int weights[] = {96,98,100,99,98,95};
for (int k=0; k < 6 ; k++) {
int &rWeight = weights[k];
int *pWeight = &weights[k];
cout << "rWeight " << rWeight << endl;
cout << "*pWeight " << *pWeight << endl << endl;
}


Do be careful - if you assign something to an existing reference, you're changing the value of the variable that it's aliased to and you're not making the reference point at something else .... but if you assign something to an existing pointer, you're changing what it points to.



(written 2006-07-10)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
C233 - C and C based languages - OO in C++ - beyond the basics
  [4560] Variables, Pointers and References - C and C++ - (2015-10-29)
  [4559] When do I use the this keyword in C++? - (2015-10-29)
  [4377] Designing a base class and subclasses, and their extension, in C++ - (2015-01-01)
  [4375] Final examples for 2014 - and a look at our 2015 training course options - (2014-12-31)
  [4356] Object factories in C++, Python, PHP and Perl - (2014-12-19)
  [3979] Extended and Associated objects - what is the difference - C++ example - (2013-01-18)
  [3811] Associated Classes - using objects of one class within another - (2012-07-21)
  [3508] Destructor methods in C++ - a primer - (2011-11-05)
  [3251] C++ - objects that are based on other objects, saving coding and adding robustness - (2011-04-17)
  [3244] C and C++ - preprocess, compile, load, run - what each step is for - (2011-04-12)
  [3142] Private and Public - and things between - (2011-01-22)
  [3124] C++ - putting the language elements together into a program - (2011-01-08)
  [3123] C++ objects - some short, single file demonstrations - (2011-01-07)
  [3056] C++ - a complete example with polymorphism, and how to split it into project files - (2010-11-16)
  [2845] Objects and Inheritance in C++ - an easy start - (2010-07-01)
  [2577] Complete teaching example - C++, inheritance, polymorphism - (2010-01-15)
  [1819] Calling base class constructors - (2008-10-03)
  [1674] What a lot of files! (C++ / Polymorphism demo) - (2008-06-12)
  [1572] C - structs and unions, C++ classes and polymorphism - (2008-03-13)
  [1217] What are factory and singleton classes? - (2007-06-04)
  [925] C++ - just beyond the basics. More you can do - (2006-11-14)
  [831] Comparison of Object Oriented Philosophy - Python, Java, C++, Perl - (2006-08-13)
  [801] Simple polymorphism example - C++ - (2006-07-14)


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